U.N. Resolution Proposed by U.S. Would Sanction Kim, Cut Oil Supplies -- 2nd Update

By Farnaz Fassihi Features Dow Jones Newswires

A U.S. proposal for new United Nations sanctions against North Korea would clamp an embargo on its oil and textile trade and slap a full asset freeze and world-wide travel ban on leader Kim Jong Un and key regime members and institutions, according to a draft of the proposal.

Continue Reading Below

If adopted, the resolution would significantly escalate political and diplomatic pressure on Pyongyang as it continues to defy U.N. resolutions with its nuclear and ballistic-missile tests.

The U.S. circulated a draft of the resolution, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, to all 15 members of the Security Council, and diplomats said they expect a vote on Sept. 11. Negotiations for a consensus have expanded from talks between the U.S. and China to all members of the council, diplomats said.

"This is an ambitious and hard-hitting resolution," said a Security Council diplomat. "We will be open to negotiations but there must be a strong resolution."

The new sanctions resolution was designed to cripple the heart of the regime, from Mr. Kim to the military and key ministries, in an effort to use diplomacy to halt the country's accelerating nuclear-weapons program.

The resolution faces hurdles in winning the backing of China and Russia. Both veto-holding countries are allies of North Korea and have said they don't favor sanctions that would cripple the economy to the brink of collapse, or contribute to the suffering of civilians. Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that cutting off oil exports to North Korea would violate humanitarian norms.

Continue Reading Below

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi criticized North Korea's most recent nuclear test on Thursday, saying Beijing approved of "further action" by the Security Council in response, according to a statement posted on the ministry's website.

Mr. Wang said China was "firmly opposed" to the Sunday test and urged North Korea to cease "obstinately walking its own path," the statement said. It didn't elaborate on what type of U.N. action China would support, but quoted Mr. Wang as saying any measures needed to be aimed at reopening dialogue.

In a phone call with President Donald Trump on Wednesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping said China is working "unswervingly" to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, according to state broadcaster China Central Television. Mr. Xi said a peaceful resolution to the North Korean nuclear issue could only be found through dialogue, CCTV reported.

Mr. Trump emphasized China's "important role" in solving the North Korean nuclear problem, according to CCTV. Both leaders said they were looking forward to a visit to China by Mr. Trump later this year.

Under the resolution, member states and their citizens and vessels would be prohibited from exporting to North Korea all crude oil, refined petroleum products and liquefied natural gas.

North Korea would also be banned from selling or transferring textiles, including fabrics and apparel products and member states prohibited from procuring textiles originating from North Korea.

Individuals targeted under the proposed asset and travel freeze include: Hwang Pyong So, vice chairman of the State Affairs Commission; Kim Ki Nam, director of the Workers' Party of Korea Propaganda and Agitation Department, which controls all media; his Vice Director Kim Yo Jong; and Pak Yong Sik, a member of the Workers' Party of Korea Central Military Commission.

Seven key government institutions that help prop up the North Korean regime and its control of the public are blacklisted in the resolution. They include the Central Military Commission, the army and propaganda and state-media ministries.

The list of sanctioned entities would also be expanded to Air Koryo, North Korea's national airline, which the resolution says is implicated for carrying illicit military equipment.

The resolution also would authorize all member states to inspect North Korean cargo vessels on high seas and report the details of the ship and the inspection to the U.N. sanctions committee.

As well, member states would be prohibited from hiring or paying North Korean nationals working in their countries unless approved in advance by the sanctions committee on a case-by-case basis. The resolution stipulates that workers can be expelled back to North Korea if they are remitting funds to the government.

North Korea's mission to the U.N. and Air Koryo didn't respond to requests to comments.

Meanwhile, early Thursday, the U.S. military delivered four additional launchers for a missile-defense battery to a site in South Korea, in a move strongly opposed by Beijing.

Deployment of the battery, called Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or Thaad, was halted earlier this year after the inauguration of South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who said that the decision to install the missile system lacked transparency.

But the North Korean missile and nuclear tests pushed him to restart deployment. Four additional launchers will sit alongside two existing launchers, and will be installed on a "temporary" basis, South Korea's Defense Ministry has said.

On Wednesday, a spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry reiterated its opposition to the deployment. "Deploying Thaad will not help settle security concerns of relevant countries," spokesman Geng Shuang said. "It will severely undermine and disrupt the strategic balance of the region and jeopardize the strategic security interests of regional countries including China. It will heighten rivalry and tension on the peninsula and further complicate the peninsula issue."

Josh Chin and Charles Hutzler in Beijing and Jonathan Cheng in Seoul contributed to this article.

Write to Farnaz Fassihi at farnaz.fassihi@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 07, 2017 05:57 ET (09:57 GMT)